Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for March 1 2017
The question most often asked of the ComicsAlliance staff is a variation of, “Which comic books should I be reading?” or, “I’m new to comics, what’s a good place to start?” The Wednesday deluge of new comic books, graphic novels and collected editions can be daunting even for the longtime reader, much less for those totally unfamiliar with creators, characters and publishers, and the dark mysteries of comic book shopping like variants, pre-ordering, and formats.
It’s with these challenges in mind that we’ve created Best Comic Books Ever (This Week), an ongoing guide curated by the ComicsAlliance staff. This is where new comics readers and seasoned Wednesday shoppers alike can find our picks of the best books the medium has to offer.
NEW SINGLE ISSUES
Single issues are periodicals, usually around 20 pages in length and priced from $2.99 to $4.99, and published in print and digitally. Single issues are typically published monthly, but some titles ship twice a month or even weekly. Single issues are the preferred format for many longtime comic book readers, and ideal if you enjoy serialized stories with cliffhangers.
TRADES & GRAPHIC NOVELS
Trades: Colloquial term for paperback or hardcover compilations of comic book stories originally published as single issues. The preferred format for readers who enjoy comic book narratives in substantial chunks.
Graphic Novels: Typically any comic book that is a complete story in a more-or-less novel-length format. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with trades.
Writer: Gabby Rivera
Artist: Joe Quinones
Publisher: Marvel Comics
This is it, it’s really happening. I’ve been reading comics for 20 years, and I’m pretty sure this is the longest I’ve ever anticipated the first issue of a new series. Fans started talking about how America Chavez should have a solo series around the time Young Avengers ended three years ago. Marvel didn’t even put her in a book for over a year, but that chorus of support from her fans never really died down. Her eventual prominence in The Ultimates brought even more support to the character, which led to Marvel finally announcing this series last fall. That may seem like a lot for this series to live up to, but all I want going in is a good fun story about a character I love. I’m confident Rivera and Quinones can give me that. [Elle Collins]
THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN #1
Writers: Adam P. Knave and DJ Kirkbride
Artist: Nick Brokenshire
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Last year, Adam P. Knave, DJ Kirkbride and Nick Brokenshire wrapped their 30-issue run on the standout Monkeybrain release Amelia Cole, and over the course of those 30 issues forged a creative bond that would ensure they would collaborate again. Thankfully for us the readers, it didn’t take too long at all for them to reunite for The Once And Future Queen from Dark Horse.
The story is based in Arthurian myth, but King Arthur is Rani Arturus, a would-be chess champion with a big destiny in front of her. Guinevere is Gwen, the mysterious love interest who follows Rani half-way around the world to learn more, and Lancelot is Lance, who is very confused by everything going on. I’ve already read the first issue — and interviewed the chaps for ComicsAlliance — so I can say with confidence that it’s a belter of a debut. [Kieran Shiach]
GREEN ARROW #18
Writer: Ben Percy
Artist: Eleonora Carlini
Publisher: DC Comics
I finally had time to sit down and catch up with Green Arrow recently, and I don’t know if there’s any book that’s benefited as much from Rebirth as this one. It’s like the platonic ideal of a Return to Greatness, where the thing that everyone thinks of when they think about what makes Green Arrow work — those relevant, important political issues that have informed his character for the past 40 years — are filtered through the lens of high-action superheroes. He’s not just railing against exploitative big banks or drug use among the youth, he’s battling a literal supervillain bank that’s floating offshore like a watery Castlevania, and taking on the Clock King, who’s selling kids the literal concept of extra time to get things done.
But it’s also had that refocus on character relationships and family, and in this story arc, Percy and Carlini are bringing back his original partnership with Roy Harper. I’ll admit that he’s not a character I’m always interested in, but here, in this comic, I can’t wait to see how he fits into this new context — and maybe stops wearing a backwards baseball cap with his superhero uniform. [Chris Sims]
Writer/Artist: Jeff Lemire
What is Jeff Lemire on? Is it legal in Canada? What’s his workout regimen like? Is he on the Whole30 Program? Lots of kale, maybe? How is it that while writing several very good books a month — Descender, Old Man Logan, Black Hammer and Moon Knight — and providing the art for his collaboration with Scott Snyder, A.D.: After Death, he manages to find the time to write and illustrate a new ongoing series, his first since Sweet Tooth?
In Royal City, Lemire returns to the territory that fans of his earliest work will find most familiar: family, the heartland, and melancholia, brought to life through muted watercolors and character studies that are so strikingly honest, they’re sometimes painful. Returning to the dying factory town where he grew up, writer Patrick Pike is sucked back into the dynamics of his family still haunted by tragedy; the drowning of the youngest brother Tommy years ago. It’s most likely not feel-good reading, but if you were one of the many captivated by Essex County and Underwater Welder, Royal City is definitely for you. Check out the first double-sized issue as soon as you can.
Seriously. A double-sized issue. Shouldn’t some sort of regulatory commission check him for doping? This is not normal. [John Parker]
MIDNIGHTER AND APOLLO #6
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Fernando Blanco
Publisher: DC Comics
Is it possible to tell an Orpheus/Eurydice story and give it a happy ending? We’ll find out from Midnighter and Apollo #6. Like Orpheus, Midnighter has made the long hard journey to Hell in search of the lover who was taken from him. But whereas Orpheus used the beauty of his music to pacify any resistance, Midnighter just beats up and if necessary kills anyone who gets in his way. Because Midnighter is as good at violence as Orpheus was at music. But now Midnighter and Apollo have to make it out of Hell together, which is the part of the myth where Orpheus failed, losing Eurydice forever. I really want Midnighter and Apollo to have long lives together, but to achieve that, they’ll have to fight the forces of Hell and defy a millennia-old mythic trope. To sum up, this is going to be a very suspenseful last issue. [EC]
COSMIC SCOUNDRELS #1
Writer: Matt Chapman and Andy Suriano
Artist: Andy Suriano
If you’re like me, literally the only thing you need to know about Cosmic Scoundrels is that it’s co-created by an artist who did character designs for Samurai Jack and one of the dudes who literally changed my life by creating Homestar Runner and Strong Bad.
If you need more information, well, I’ve been writing about how much I love this book for years, ever since it debuted as a webcomic. The short version, though, is that it’s every bit as good as you want a collaboration between those two guys to be. Hilariously funny, delightfully weird, and full of wild spacefaring action. The only problem was that the print version was only ever available in a giant-sized treasury format that were sold exclusively at cons. Now, though, IDW is bringing it to you in beautiful single-issue format, and trust me: If you like great comics, you do not want to miss this. [CS]
LUMBERJANES/GOTHAM ACADEMY TP
Writer: Chynna Clugston-Flores
Artists: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell and Maddi Gonzalez
Publisher: Boom! Studios
While it may not be completely fair to say that this 2016 crossover is one that no one demanded, I think we can agree on the fact that it was one that no one was really expecting. Blue Monday creator Chynna Clugston-Flores, no stranger to writing teenagers, found a way to smash the two series together in a way that felt natural for both books (which have relatively little in common, save for the age of their protagonists and their target audience), while also providing a story that seemed very Chynna Clugston-Flores.
It may read effortless, but that can’t have been an easy feat. When a Gotham Academy professor goes missing, the Detective Club follows the clues into a weird woods, where they encounter the ‘Janes, who are missing their camp director. Finding them turns out to be the easy part; it’s rescuing them from a bizarre haunted cabin that proves the real challenge.
If you like either franchise, you should like this, which provides a nice introduction to the other. And if you like them both, well then, you already know you’re going to like this. [Caleb Mozzocco]
SUICIDE SQUAD, VOL 1: THE BLACK VAULT TP
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Jim Lee, Philip Tan, Various
Publisher: DC Comics
I had high hopes for a lot of DC Rebirth titles, but I’ll admit that Suicide Squad was one that I was very wary of. DC’s idea of what the Squad should be in the 21st century was a far cry from the glory days of John Ostrander, Kim Yale and Luke McDonnell, the movie was shaping up to be the disaster it ended up being and personally, I’ve never been a fan of Jim Lee’s art.
Thankfully, I was completely wrong to have those doubts and Suicide Squad is actually one of the standout titles of the Rebirth initiative. It captures the feel of that classic ’80s run and melds it with Rob Williams’ 2000 AD style, and Jim Lee does some of the best work of his entire career in this volume. If you’ve written off Suicide Squad as a franchise like I very nearly did, I reckon you should check out this first volume, you may be surprised with how good it is. [KS]
ZATANNA BY PAUL DINI TP
Writer: Paul Dini
Artists: Stephane Roux, Rick Mays, Chad Hardin and others
Publisher: DC Comics
While Batman: The Animated Series, Detective Comics and Dark Night writer Paul Dini may be most closely associated with Batman, it’s no secret who his other favorite DC superhero is — you can tell by how often he writes her into his Batman stuff.
This 400-page paperback collection includes the entirety of his short-lived 2010-2011 Zatanna ongoing monthly (even though there were a handful of issues of the series not written by Dini), Dini’s 2003 Vertigo-published Everyday Magic one-shot with Rick Mays and a couple of short stories from holiday specials. That’s not all of the Zatanna stories Dini has ever written, but it accounts for a pretty huge chunk of them. [CM]